Tuesday, March 10, 2009

U.S. Will Continue to Sail in International Waters, Official Says

U.S. Will Continue to Sail in International Waters, Official Says
Story Number: NNS090310-08
Release Date: 3/10/2009 5:09:00 PM
Top News Story - Editors should consider using these stories first in local publications.

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Services

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The United States will continue to sail ships on missions in international waters a Department of Defense official said March 10.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the March 8 incident in the South China Sea in which five Chinese ships surrounded USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS 23) - an unarmed Military Sealift Command vessel – won't hinder the United States from using international sea lanes.

The United States protested the Chinese activity to China's foreign ministry in Beijing and to the defense attache at the Chinese Embassy here. China rejected the U.S. protests March 10 and maintains Impeccable violated international law by sailing in the area.

The ship is an ocean surveillance vessel and was mapping the sea bottom when the Chinese ships approached. The Chinese ships included a Chinese navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries patrol vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers.

Two ships approached within 50 feet of Impeccable before the American civilian crew used fire hoses to challenge them. One of the Chinese ships approached within 25 feet of the American ship. Two Chinese trawlers then stopped directly in front of the Impeccable as it attempted to leave the area.

The Chinese allege the American ship was operating illegally in China's Economic Exclusion Zone. China claims a 125-mile zone.

"Our activities were in international waters, and we will continue to operate in international waters as appropriate," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, yesterday. "Our ships obviously operate fairly regularly in international waters where these incidents took place. We're going to continue to operate in those international waters, and we expect the Chinese to observe international law around them."

The area is about 70 miles south of Hainan Island. In 2001, two Chinese fighter aircraft challenged a U.S. Navy EP-3 patrol plane in the area. There was a collision between one of the Chinese fighters and the P-3, killing the Chinese pilot. The P-3 made an emergency landing on Hainan Island, and the Chinese detained the 24-member crew of the American patrol plane for 12 days.

China Threat in South China Sea

Two Chinese trawlers stop directly in front of the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), forcing the ship to conduct an emergency

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090308-N-0000X-003 SOUTH CHINA SEA (March 8, 2009) Two Chinese trawlers stop directly in front of the military Sealift Command ocean surveillance ship USNS Impeccable (T-AGOS-23), forcing the ship to conduct an emergency "all stop" in order to avoid collision. The incident took place in international waters in the South China Sea about 75 miles south of Hainan Island. The trawlers came within 25 feet of Impeccable, as part of an apparent coordinated effort to harass the unarmed ocean surveillance ship. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)


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Update: China’s Aircraft Carriers

by Richard Fisher, Jr.
Published on March 10th, 2009

China’s decision in mid-December 2008 to dispatch a small People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) task force of two destroyers to police against Somalia’s pirates has been greeted as a hopeful sign that China may use its growing naval capabilities positively; one Chinese commentator said it “shows the world that China is a large responsible nation.”[1] Nevertheless, China struck a nationalist tone to its participation, refusing to join the American-led multinational naval Task Force 151, though engaging in an uneven information exchange with the U.S. side.[2] A less benign demonstration was a far less noted December 9, 2008 incident in the East China Sea, in which two Chinese Marine Surveillance Agency ships apparently made use of the PLA’s increasingly capable space and electronic information capabilities, to calculate the precise moment when Japanese Coast Guard ships would not be present to thwart China’s latest effort to assert its sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku Islands.[3]


China to boost military spending

Chinese soldiers training - 12/1/2009
Some of the extra money is to go towards soldiers' pay, officials say

China says it will increase military spending by a "modest" 14.9% this year to 480.6bn yuan ($70.2bn; £50bn).